CSR – Compulsive Social Responsibility or a New-Age Answer to Sustainable Growth?

CSR – Compulsive Social Responsibility or a New-Age Answer to Sustainable Growth?


Eva SharmaEva Sharma is a marketing professional with a passion for building brands, conceptualizing stories, and developing meaningful customer relationships. At TheMathCompany, she is responsible for defining the brand’s strategic direction and value proposition to establish and elevate MathCo.’s brand identity. She is also involved in running CSR campaigns under Co.exist – their CSR wing. She is also an aspiring animal conservationist and believes in giving back more than one has taken. Prior to this, she has worked with The Times of India wherein she has strategized a viable road-map for building the TOI - Karnataka brand and executed it.

CSR is no longer the ‘responsibility’ of ‘large’ organisations. Next-gen companies are also gradually understanding the importance of CSR, not only for society but for their businesses as well. However, with the government making corporate social responsibility mandatory, there’s been a raging debate about whether CSR is a responsibility or a compulsion. Let’s understand what our author, Eva Sharma, thinks about it.

Businesses cannot be successful when the society around them fails.” Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has, since its inception, been a controversial subject that continues to attract attention.

Traditionally, only large corporations adopted CSR as one of their primary responsibilities. The criteria for organisations to be categorized into the “large” bucket was as laid out in Section 135 of the Companies Act. From the past decade, however, next-gen companies, both small and mid-sized, have understood that as important as CSR is for the society, it is equally valuable for the company.

CSR activities can help forge a stronger bond between the company and its people, and develop a deeper, more human connection between the organisation and its ecosystem.

Even today’s consumers look to align themselves with companies and brands that greatly invest their time, money and/or effort in moving towards creating a sustainable future for all.

It is also only through CSR programs, that organisations can benefit society whilst building their brands.

Thus, companies, ranging from MNCs to mere start-ups are choosing to embrace CSR and are setting up or aligning with CSR programs to be socially accountable to their employees, stakeholders as well as the society.

Little do people know that India is the first country in the world to make corporate social responsibility mandatory, following an amendment to The Company Act, 2013 in April 2014. With this landmark ruling, however, the debate, about whether CSR is a responsibility or a compulsion, arose.

I, for one, feel that while some organisations take up CSR-led campaigns to create visibility, many do it more so because they have the right intent at heart.

More than the organisation, it is the people who make up the CSR team, and go out of their way to make it work – they do it out of their sheer passion to stand up for the rights of others – humans or otherwise, aim towards sustainable living, and to aid in bringing about positive societal and environmental changes.

People in these teams and organisations have the society’s best interest at heart and want to contribute to a better tomorrow.

At TheMathCompany, we have recently set up our own CSR wing– Co.exist. Instead of a top-down affair, it has been more of a people-led initiative and is being run by volunteers who contribute their time and effort to take up initiatives ranging from a small campaign to replace paper cups with reusable fibre glasses for drinking water within the organisation, to carrying out a full-fledged donation of cooking and hygiene necessities to a shelter-home for orphan kids in Bangalore. At the heart of our CSR wing, are the beliefs that CSR activities cannot be one time, they have to be long term and sustainable; they don’t have to rely on huge donations but must rather revolve around upskilling and uplifting; and that our initiatives should be able to create large-scale sustainable global impacts eventually.

Instead of a discussion on whether the Swadesh Bazaar event was a marketing and publicity stunt or a compulsion on the privileged to do something for subalterns, the discussion and conclusion must ultimately revolve around the fact that even though there is no compulsion, companies are proactively setting up CSR teams or moving in that direction, concluding that it is the intent that steers them. Even companies that reach the “two per cent” threshold, have CSR policies and practices in place beforehand, again inclining strongly towards intent being the driving force rather than compulsion. This goes to prove the adage, “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”


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